Nick Angarita shoots video while riding his one-wheel through the world-famous Graffiti Lab. Opened in 2006 after the LA public school district cut its after-school art programs, The Graff Lab is a safe, legal space for graffiti and aerosol artists to develop their craft.

A Videographer Redirected


“My mom and I had a big fight, and she told me to move out,” Nick Angarita said tearfully on his cellphone to his best friend, Abi Norris. “Can I store my stuff at your house?”

Standing in the lobby of his mother’s Hollywood, California, apartment at 1 a.m., the 19-year-old toyed with documenting his new homelessness for his video blog. But with businesses closing because of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and concern that his job might be next, he had bigger things to deal with. Where am I going to live? he thought. Where am I going to store all my stuff? How am I going to do this? he wondered. Though it was late, Abi and another friend came over to sit with him and encourage him. Nick had no idea that God was about to help both him and Abi’s church and a local Christian community in ways none of them could have imagined.

A chaotic background

Nick was no stranger to instability. Growing up in Colombia, he’d never known his birth-father. His stepfather, an aspiring film director, and his mother, a budding actress, both dreamed of moving to the United States to pursue their careers, but their relationship grew increasingly tense. Nick got into fights at school, picked fights with his half-sister and stole money from his parents.

“My half-sister was way more spoiled, and I was kind of shunned,” Nick remembers. “I would get grounded, sometimes for a week, sometimes for a month. I couldn’t go out with friends or get on the computer. I had to sleep in a furniture storage room with couches and no light.”

Nick’s mother sought to defend her son and discipline Nick’s half-sister, which only caused more friction in the marriage. Although she thought about leaving, her desire to keep the family together compelled her to stay.

Life in America

When Nick was 11 years old, the family moved to the United States, first to New York City; then Orlando, Florida; and finally, Los Angeles. After divorcing her husband, Nick’s mother and the two children stayed with friends until she could afford an apartment in Hollywood. They didn’t have a car, so they rode buses everywhere, including the 17 miles each way to Nick’s school.

Always the optimist, Nick Angarita loves life and people.

Nick was bright, funny, charming and creative, but he got distracted easily. He had been diagnosed with ADHD as a child in Colombia.

Unfortunately, Nick’s difficulty focusing and following through created more and more friction between him and his mother. She had worked hard, from having a job at a McDonald’s in Orlando to later earning her bachelor’s degree in theater from Cal State Los Angeles.

According to Nick, she expected him to pull his weight by helping out around the house. Despite his good intentions, he would start a chore and then get distracted and never finish. He reacted angrily to her requests, and their mutual frustration built until finally his mother issued an ultimatum: “If you don’t like it here, or aren’t willing or able to help, you need to move out.” After another fight, she dropped her initial one-month deadline to three days, and Nick ran out of time.

Two new starts

The morning after his tearful call to Abi, Nick rented a truck to move his belongings to a backyard storage shed at Abi’s parents’ home. Tom and Shannon Norris live in the Pico-Union neighborhood west of downtown Los Angeles where they lead Cru®’s local Inner City ministry. Partnering with hundreds of urban churches across America, Cru Inner City provides food, shares the gospel and offers training and other tangible assistance to inner-city residents and families.

Encampments by those experiencing homelessness are increasingly common on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

The 2.71 square miles comprising the Los Angeles Skid Row neighborhood, located east of the Pico-Union neighborhood and the Nehemiah House, has one of the largest stable homeless populations in the U.S., between 4,000 to 8,000 people.

After leaving his mother’s apartment, Nick had nowhere to go. He spent the night in a hotel lobby. The next day, he headed to work and afterwards, Abi invited him to dinner and a game night at a large house just down the street from her home. Owned by Cru Inner City partner First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles, the four-bedroom, three-bath “Nehemiah House” provides a safe, simple living situation for young adult interns, including those serving with Cru.

“This house helps us raise up the next generation of godly urban ministry leaders,” says Sarah Yetter, the after-school church program director for S.A.Y. Yes! Centers for Youth Development®. During the game time, the house’s interns insisted Nick spend the night while Abi approached Sarah about the possibility of Nick staying temporarily. After interviewing him, Sarah and her husband, Scott, pastor of the church, invited Nick to stay for two weeks while they worked to find a more permanent situation.

“We’d like you to help out and just participate in the community,” they said, and Nick agreed.

On her front porch, next door to the Nehemiah House, S.A.Y. Yes! local program director Sarah Yetter asks Nick how things are going.

One of Nick’s daily chores is sweeping the Nehemiah House’s entryway, living and dining rooms, and kitchen.

In his bedroom grotto in the basement of the Nehemiah House, Nick edits newly shot video footage.

As Nick spent more time with Abi and the interns, he was increasingly impressed with the character they all displayed. Back in high school, Nick had criticized and debated Abi’s faith, but as he watched the interns live out their beliefs with kindness, compassion and a selfless love for others, his negative view of Christianity began to change.

The Los Angeles financial district’s skyline at dusk is visible from the Pico-Union neighborhood.

Effective prayers

As COVID-19 spread throughout Los Angeles during 2021, several church members, including Abi’s father, Tom, became infected. Pastor Scott met with the interns to pray for healing and protection. He anointed each person with oil and prayed for them, according to James 5:14-16:

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

As Scott moved from one person to another, Sarah whispered to Nick, “If you’re not comfortable with this, ask Scott to skip you,” which Nick intended to do. Instead, when Scott got to him, to his own amazement, Nick said, “I’d like to receive Christ.” Nick and Scott discussed what that meant for a few minutes and then prayed together. Nick asked Jesus to forgive his sins and began a relationship with Him.

Rejoicing with Nick over his newfound faith, the group found out the next day that “the effective prayer of a righteous person” really was powerful. Tom shared that he was instantly healed of his chest congestion “at the exact time you were praying for me,” he told Scott. “It was like a hand just reached into my chest and ripped out [the congestion], and I could breathe again!”

The neighborhood of the Nehemiah House as seen from the church’s bell tower.

Two days later, Los Angeles County issued their stay-at-home order. Scott’s church had no one with tech experience who knew how to move their services online. “There was more fear of COVID-19 here,” Tom, also a church elder, said. “Everyone knew someone who had either died or been seriously ill. They were sensitive to social distancing because so many people got sick.”

Scott and Tom suddenly realized that God sovereignly brought Nick to them for just such a time as this. Nick set up a YouTube channel for the church and, since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, has live-streamed every one of their Sunday services. He even shot their Easter service using three different camera angles.

In college, Nick became fascinated by YouTube video blogs. Using earnings from his clothing store job, Nick bought video equipment and software, shooting and editing hours of video to post on his own YouTube channel. His interest in videography and talent for it became a blessing for his new church community.

“It’s so amazing the way God works,” Scott says. “He brought Nick to us before we knew we had a need for a video person. He not only had the expertise, he had relational skills, and a faithfulness remarkable for his age. He’s been a tremendous blessing for us.”

Nick Angarita shares how he began his personal relationship with God.

Nick and Scott also began meeting weekly to study the Bible together, and Nick couldn’t get enough. The disdain he’d formerly felt for Scripture turned into a hunger and thirst for more spiritual knowledge. He arrived early to the church services to prepare to live-stream them, and he also soaked up every word of Scott’s teaching. Nick also started meeting with Abi’s father, Tom, for additional mentoring, which was courageous for him, as he and Abi had also just begun dating.

The Norris family hosts Nick for a dinner of Thai food (from left to right, son Ian, wife Shannon, Tom, Nick, and daughter Abi).

Tom and Nick discuss a Scripture passage during their weekly Bible study appointment.

As Nick grew in his faith, others began to notice changes in him. He and his mother not only reconciled, but also began finding common ground with each other spiritually. He also forgave and reconciled with his ex-stepfather, who asked Nick’s forgiveness for his harsh treatment of him in Colombia.

Even his attitude towards the kids in the after-school program changed. “I’ve always wanted to be the kind of father I didn’t have, but I found other people’s kids annoying,” Nick said. Since moving into the Nehemiah House, Nick has become a surrogate big brother to many kids, playing with them, encouraging them and helping them with homework.

Norman jumps off the S.A.Y. Yes!® trampoline as high as he can during playtime.

S.A.Y. Yes!® volunteers Beto and Margarita help kids with homework after playtime and snack time.

Nick elicits squeals of delight from Isaac during S.A.Y. Yes!®’s playtime.

“It’s so fun to see him throwing himself in fully with the kids,” Abi says. “If they want him to get pushed in the pool, he’s going in the pool. If they want to run around and have 10 of them tackle him, he’s getting tackled. He’s all about the kids, all about their needs when he’s with them.”

Glimpses of Nick’s life in Los Angeles

Nick noticed that his ambitions were changing. He began mentoring a few teenagers, as Scott and Tom had done with him. He was also asked to share his coming-to-faith testimony at a recent Cru Inner City PowerPacks® event, which distributed donated backpacks and school supplies to neighborhood kids.

S.A.Y. Yes!® staff member Alexis reads to neighborhood resident Paloma.

Nicole, Lucy and Genesis decide which quarterly S.A.Y. Yes!® store items they’ll purchase with the points they’ve earned in the program.

Nick plays with S.A.Y. Yes!® program kids in the above-ground pool behind the Nehemiah House.

“So many families here struggle just to make ends meet,” Sarah says. “Their highest priorities are food and rent, but then the school requires their kids to have backpacks and school supplies. They have to choose between skipping a meal or the backpack, so our PowerPacks are a real physical blessing for them.”

Nick helps Kayden with homework during a typical S.A.Y. Yes! Centers for Youth Development® after-school program in the backyard of the Nehemiah House.

After Nick had prepared his testimony, at the last minute, the volunteer in charge asked him, “Oh, can you do it in Spanish?” A bit thrown, Nick said, “OK, God’s in control, I’ll do it,” and took a few minutes to think it through in Spanish. “He did a great job!” says Tom. “It even helped him be less anxious because he had less time to think about it.”

Nick continues to shoot YouTube videos, but his goal is no longer becoming a famous, successful video blogger. He has shot and edited videos both for the church and for Cru Inner City.

“I used to want to use my gifts with video to make a name for myself,” he says, “But Jesus has changed all that. Now, I want to do that to serve him.”

The sunset shows through a smoggy sky over a neighborhood near the church in LA.

Reach Out

What gifts has God given you that you can use for the advancement of his kingdom?

Learn More About Cru Inner City
Michael Chapman
Words by

Michael Chapman

Born in Colorado, Mike majored in acting/radio, TV and film at Kansas University. Since 1983, he’s served with the campus, Hollywood and military ministries of Cru® and now works at Cru’s World Headquarters at Lake Hart in Orlando, Florida. He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Angel and Eric.

Contact Me
Ted Wilcox
Photos by

Ted Wilcox

Ted loves zigzagging the globe, capturing photos and stories of what God is doing. Originally from California, he serves as a missionary photojournalist with Cru® in Orlando, Florida. Ted also ministers to international scholars who come to Orlando to study.

Contact Me


Read more from the January 2022 issue

Christian Growth

How You Can Find Rest in the Rhythms of Jesus

In a world driven to hurry and worry, Jesus Christ offers another way, a restful way embedded in his rhythms and in keeping company with him.

January 2022

Get email updates

Subscribe now to receive Cru Storylines™ in your inbox.

Subscribe now